Businessmen tolerating bribery in PH should be blamed over worsening problem

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 04 2020 05:11 PM

MANILA - Businessmen who succumb to bribery should be blamed over the government’s difficulty to curb the illegal practice, Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Wednesday after a study showed that corruption is among the top threats to the Philippine economy.

Panelo criticized traders who pay off government officials after a report showed increasing bribery over the last two years.

“Yun ang sinasabi ni Presidente (That’s what the President is saying), do not complain of corruption if you yourselves are involved in them,” Panelo told reporters in Malacañang.

 “Ang problema tumatahimik kayo, eh tapos you complain about corruption. You keep it to yourselves. How can you eliminate corruption?” he added.

(The problem is you keep quiet and then complain about corruption.)

In its 2020 Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey, auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers said at least one in four businesses in the Philippines have experienced some form of scam in the last two years.

Of the 101 businesses covered by the survey, 42 percent reported losing money between P254 million to P2.54 billion ($5 million to $50 million) since 2018.

Around 14 percent of the respondents also claimed losing a business opportunity to a competitor who paid bribes.

“This is concerning as businesses operating in the Philippines may be more likely to contemplate paying bribes as a feasible option to take in order to win business opportunities against competitors,” the study noted.

Panelo said the practice of bribery persists in government because businessmen tolerate it.

“Kaya nagkakaroon ng (there is) corruption kasi (because) you are cooperating with the corrupt people,” he said.

To curb the practice, the Palace urged entrepreneurs to “make noise” about the problems they encounter so that government can act on it.

“Any act of corruption, any illegality, you tell government so we can immediately address it,” Panelo said.

President Rodrigo Duterte in his public speeches often promises businessmen of a corruption-free regime, saying he would “kill” the problem.

He recently ordered government agencies to remove “redundant or burdensome” processes for businessmen, describing them as “manifestations of overregulation.”